If you’re looking for an escape from the ordinary, how about visiting an island? If you live in the Midwest, you can find islands close to home in Ohio. (Yes, Ohio!) Located in Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay offers a fun family-friendly island experience. We visited a couple years ago and couldn’t believe how many family-friendly things there were to do. Need convincing? Just read on and best things to do on Put-in-Bay with the family.
Disclosure: Our family was provided complimentary Miller Ferry and Perry’s Family Fun Center tickets. I was not required to express a particular point of view, and all opinions are my own.
RELATED: Want to see what else we did on our trip to the Lake Erie Shores and Islands? On our last visit, we explored Port Clinton a little bit and highly recommend you do so as well! Read about it here.
1. Get to the Island
Your adventure begins with a ferry ride on Miller Ferry. (Read all about our fun here.) Not only is it the least expensive way to the island ($7.50 one way per adults; kids 6-11 are $1.50/one way and kids under 6 are FREE!), but the ride is short and sweet perfect for my impatient kids. With ferries leaving every 30 minutes during the summer, it’s really easy to hop on whenever you can make it. Plus, tickets can easily be purchased at the station.
2. Explore by golf cart
Although cars are allowed on the island unlike Mackinac Island, you’ll quickly find that the most popular mode of transportation is by golf cart. You’ll even find dedicated parking spots for golf cart only. Cool, right? After hopping off the ferry, we walked around the corner and got our golf cart from E’s Golf Cart. And, as luck would have it, we were given the “Polar Express” again. So off we went and explored around the island!
3. Go up to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
It’s hard to miss Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial and its towering on the island. Managed by the National Park Service, we learned about this 352-foot iconic memorial dedicated as a symbol of peace between the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Head to the Visitor Center to learn more about Commodore Oliver H. Perry and his naval victory in the War of 1812.
For a truly unique opportunity, it’s worth it to take the elevator to the top of the monument up 317 feet. Luckily, the weather was in our favor and we had excellent views. From here, you’ll be granted amazing views on a clear day including the Cedar Point amusement park.According to the park ranger, it was the first clear day in awhile. As a perk, they even offer binoculars . The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands them. Admission is $10 per adults and I think it was well worth it since it goes to our beloved National Parks system. Plus, kids under 15 are free!
Tip: Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger Program. And don’t forget to bring your National Park Passport to get stamped!
4. Explore a cave
As one of the attractions at the family-friendly mecca, Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center is one you can’t miss. We ventured down 52 feet underground the limestone cave to a cool 50 degrees. While the cave isn’t too big, it was interesting to learn how Colonel Perry discovered the cave and also used it as a bunker during the war.
The tour was short and sweet lasting about 20 minutes. My favorite part was seeing their underground lake with its clear waters which at first looks shallow but is actually quite deep (some 9 ft!)
5. Watch butterflies flutter by
If you’re a fan of butterflies like I am, then you’ll adore the 4000 ft Butterfly House with over 50 types of butterflies flying around. Located at Perry’s Family Fun Center, this would be a great option to include with your visit to Perry’s Cave.
6. Go mini golfing
If you’re at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center one of the activities you’ll want to try is playing at the War of 18 Holes Miniature Golf. Where else can you play mini golf while learning a little bit of history about Perry and the War of 1812. Other things we could have done at Perry’s Cave include climbing the rock walls, finding our way through the maze, or scoping out sweet cars at the antique car museum. We could have easily spent the whole day here. Such a neat place for families!
RELATED: Interested in seeing what we did on our last visit to Put-in-Bay?
7. Grab lunch
Lunch time hit and we were hungry. I heard great things about Goat Soup and Whiskey and we decided to give it a try. I’m so glad we did! In fact, they may be our new favorite Put-in-Bay restaurant! Located on Catawba Avenue right above The Chocolate Museum, the restaurant also offered a nice outdoor patio section overlooking Catawba Avenue. Kids were kept busy with games like Jenga or dominoes. Everything we had was so, so good: reuben balls, perch tacos (definitely DO NOT miss this!), homemade soup, lamb burger – everything! My husband couldn’t believe they had Delirium Pink Elephant craft beer on tap.
8. Chocolate (and ice cream!) time
After our lunch, we headed downstairs to The Chocolate Museum. We quickly perused the items in the small museum, but the kids couldn’t wait to pick out their treats. (I don’t blame them – the smells were divine.) From chocolates to popcorn and tempting cakes to ice cream, The Chocolate Museum and Cafe has something to satisfy your sweet tooth. And yes, the ice cream is that delicious!
9. Step inside a geode then drink wine
We hopped in the golf cart and drove down the street to Heineman’s Winery where there is a cave located beneath the winery. So underground we went again to Crystal Cave, the world’s largest recorded geode. It was so cool being surrounded by celestite crystals, used in the manufacturing of fireworks. Thankfully, the tour was pretty short because it is such a small space to fit a lot of people. Part of tour includes my favorite part, the winery.
Fun fact: The cave was discovered in 1897 by workers digging a well for the winery.
Heineman’s offers a quick tour of the wine process but the end is always the best when we can sample wine. And guess what? Kids can partake in the fun and order grape juice that they make on-site.
Tip: For a great souvenir, grab some grape juice for home. Momma gets a bottle of wine and the kids get a bottle of grape juice. Talk about a win-win situation!
10. Walk around downtown
Every visit to Put-in-Bay requires a visit to the downtown area. You’ll find souvenir and candy shops, restaurants and bars. Take time to take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel or stop by and relax and DeRivera Park with a fun playground.
Have you been to Put-in-Bay with the family? What are some of your favorite things to do?